Pune: Former chief minister of Assam and Assam Gana Parishad leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, said on Sunday that when a delegation of Indian government and opposition leaders visited Bangladesh and had a talk with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and asked whether they had an idea of the population of Bangladeshi immigrants in India, they were informed that the Bangladesh government has not received any official communication from the Indian government.
Speaking at a programme organised by ‘Sarhad’ in the city on Monday, Mahanta was replying to questions asked by interviewers Shriranjan Awate and Yuvraj Shah. Mahanta, who was also the youngest ever chief minister of a state, was the one who signed the Assam Accords with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, which fixed the citizenship of the Bangladesh immigrants in Assam, limiting it to the settlers who settled before 1971.
The National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue has brought back the issue of illegal immigrants in the public debate.
“When we, with a BJP minister, opposition leader Gulam Nabi Azad, CPI-CPI (M) leaders, went as a delegation to meet the Bangladeshi PM, we asked her at dinner, whether Bangladesh had an idea of the number of illegal immigrants of their country who have settled in India, she told us they have no knowledge of it as there has been no official communication from the Indian government regarding the issue,” Mahanta said, confirming the statement after interviewers asked him to reconsider it.
Mahanta said the NRC issue and the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act will only add to polarisation of communities. “Yes, these decisions are being taken with the 2019 elections in mind and will aid in polarisation of the communities in tense areas,” he said, replying to a question by the interviewers.
He added, “The future of Assam is in a sensitive mode and I appeal to the Centre to look at it on these lines and not based on votes.”
Mahanta further said, “The Congress behaved like a dictator in Assam, comparable to Hitler or Napoleon. We wanted to oppose the Congress and so supported the BJP. But since the elections, the BJP has failed to fulfill any of its promises in the state.”